Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia sometimes have the worst luck at competitions and it has nothing to do with their performances.
At the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki, Tarasova received 10 stitches after her partner’s blade sliced her leg during a practice session. The duo went on to capture the bronze medal.
On Saturday, the reigning World silver pairs medalists had another unfortunate accident during a practice session, when Tarasova collided with another pairs skater, Alexander Korovin, who was standing at the boards warming up with his partner. Tarasova tumbled to the ice striking her chin. She suffered a gash that required a trip to a local hospital where seven stitches were inserted. But, once again, Tarasova took it all in stride and said she was determined to skate in the pairs free later that day.
The Moscow-based team, who are now coached primarily by Maxim Trankov, had a 6.15-point lead after the short. As they stepped on to the ice for the long program, Trankov closed his eyes as if he was praying for it to go well. It did. Despite the injury, they sailed through the program with Tarasova making just one mistake (a stumble on the exit of an intended triple Salchow jump). The tenacious team earned a total of 220.25 points and won the competition by a 16.42-point margin.
“It was a difficult day today. I lost a lot of time when I went to the hospital, so we couldn’t prepare for the free skate as usual. Considering that, we skated quite well. I just made one major error,” Tarasova said.
Italy’s Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise wrote their own piece of skating history, with two second-place finishes at both their Grand Prix assignments this season. In Moscow, they earned personal bests for the short, long and combined scores, closing out the competition with 203.83 points in total. With two silver medals to their credit, they became the first Italian pairs team to ever qualify for a Grand Prix Final at any level.
“I want to thank Moscow for giving us great emotions,” Guarise said. “We felt almost like being at home. It was a good battle. The legs were shaking, but we have been training very hard mentally and physically.”
“Qualifying for the Grand Prix Final was a goal for us for the first part of the season and we achieved it,” Della Monica added.
Reigning World junior champions Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin of Russia, third in their senior debut in Helsinki two weeks earlier, claimed a second bronze in Moscow. The team earned a personal best overall score of 190.01 points at Rostelecom Cup. “We are happy with our result, but we made some mistakes. Next time we’ll hopefully skate clean,” said Pavliuchenko.
Austria’s Miriam Ziegler and Severin Kiefer, who are co-coached by Bruno Massot, dropped from third after the short to fourth overall with 187.01 points. Alisa Efimova and Korovin, second at Skate America, placed fifth with 181.62 points. Skate America bronze medalists Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc were sixth (170.29 points).
Their teammates, Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Nathan Bartholomay, eighth after the short program, withdrew from the free skate with Stellato-Dudek citing illness as the reason.